A Decade after Sarbanes-Oxley: The Need for Ongoing Vigilance, Monitoring, and Research

Practical Implications:

This paper provides views on many areas within the auditing profession that would benefit from further research and analysis, as well as opportunities for research that could be useful to the PCAOB as it considers current and future regulatory priorities.

Citation:

Franzel, J. M. 2014. A Decade after Sarbanes-Oxley: The Need for Ongoing Vigilance, Monitoring, and Research. Accounting Horizons 28 (4): 917-930.

Purpose of the Study:

After more than a decade since passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the creation of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), it is appropriate and necessary to ask questions about the present state of audit quality and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of PCAOB’s oversight programs. Written from the viewpoint of a current PCAOB Board member and former Managing Director of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), this paper discusses the warning signs of serious auditing problems in the years preceding the Act, and the role that the GAO played in analyzing those risks and calling for greater oversight of the accounting profession’s auditing public companies.

Design/Method/ Approach:

This paper provides the perspective of the author, a current PCAOB Board member, on the major issues debated during the development and passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, specifically related to the oversight of the auditing profession and the creation of the PCAOB.

Findings:

The interrelated nature of corporate governance, accounting and financial reporting, the auditing of financial statements, and oversight of the accounting profession call on all stakeholders to work vigilantly to ensure the integrity of each aspect of this system. All participants need to be alert to warning signs and red flags and respond appropriately to maintain integrity and the public trust. Failure in any of these areas places a strain on the entire system and could threaten the capital markets and greater economic well-being. The successful functioning of this system also relies on academic researchers. The academic community plays a key role in this system of vigilance by conducting research and analysis, monitoring the strengths and weaknesses of the system at any given time, evaluating performance, across the financial system, studying the impact of specific actions, and generating recommendations for change. In addition, success of the entire system relies on educators preparing future members of the profession to successfully assume and carry out their responsibilities in maintaining integrity and public trust, while protecting investors and the public interest.